Two velodrome races, a good meal, and 2 aspirins made for over 9 hours of deep sleep. The 2 little pills where needed to kill a small headache. So I woke up all fresh and happy, ready for the big race. I ate 5 slices of bread and drunk a big cup of fruity yoghurt. Yivalté only needed a the external fuel tank strapped on to the back of the seat. Only thing left to do, when it comes to preparing, was to pack all my stuff back into the Cyclone trailer.
Just after ten, the grid is loaded with all kind of machines. From 'naked' to fully faired, just over 50 people will give it a go at riding as far as possible in 6 hours. My goal was 200km, my dream was to average 35km/h. Should be possible, with a good drafts throughout the race.
Right after start I form a duo with Corinne. A 'low' heart rate suggests that I'm taking it easy, but I'm already doing 35-36. Corinne finds a good spot right behind me and I'm fine with that. Our group grows as we team up with 2 Thijs rowing bikes. My average starts to rise, the group grows. The long back straight is so relaxing in the group, that I feel like taking a little nap. The viaduct right after start/finish keeps me sharp.
Than, after about fifty minutes I'm lapped by a small fast group of three. That group now is a quartet. Riding with 38 on the speedo is that difficult. This group still was small, so a the loss of only one could make it quite fragile. Luckily, the M5 boys ride by. The group grows to six and speeds up. I find time to eat a banana. During this race I consumed 2 bananas, 3 powergels, 2 biscuits, and just over 2 litres of fluid with added powders.
The average rises even further. It was 40.5 tops. Each lap, for a continuing three hours, we'd reach more than 50km/h racing down the little viaduct. I'd be doing 30 on top of it, most of the time, than do 5-6 up-shifts within a few seconds, and plummet down, trying to keep up with the big guys. At one moment, I lost my concentration, and tipped the fender of the guy in front of me. We lose some time on the others, but I manage to quickly close to gap to the others. Quite an exciting experience to tip a fender whilst being in top gear.
My heart rate never really got very high. Every time to guys speed up, I could keep up. An amazing feeling. Feeling that the power is there when you need it. Good fuel helps! I'd see 160 on my heart monitor for the first part of the lap. That number most of the time went down to 150 on the back straight.
An important moment was my 'riding re-fuel'. I threw my empty water bottle into the small crowd whilst yelling: 'Jos! Fill it!' And on lap later, on top of the viaduct, the slowest part of the track, Jos handed it back to me, filled with fresh water. Great thing was that I quickly made it back to my group, because this had only cost me two seconds or so.
But, after 4 hours, I made a precautionary stop. A stop just before the engine would give problems. A moment to cool down, refill the bottle, stretch the legs. I got back on the Fuego within two minutes. I had a slow pace, 30 or so. I saw my fast group appearing in my mirror, and was back in the game. Yes, I lost a lap on them, but my average still was amazingly high. This than went on for another 35 minutes. Speeds were high, but not as high as they used to be. Still, I did overtake my fellow Huneliggers one more time.
Between 4.5 and 5 hours, I took a big break. Slowing down to give the legs the rest they needed. I adjusted the seat angle and ate the biscuits to relax my stomach. The last hour was spent with the group I had started the race with. With one important addition, one of the M5 guys. He had totally had it. This 'slow' group was the fastest he could ride with. With about 15 minutes left to go, everybody is tired. We even had some rain, and that had made everything dirty. I was riding on auto-pilot. The legs were doing the work, the body just followed.
With on lap to go, one rider left the group, and I wasn't going to let that happen, so I did one final fast lap. I finished with a dream average of 38.7km/h. My distance covered was 232.5 kilometre. There was a garden hose that I used to spray myself clean with. I put on some fresh clothes, had some coffee.
A friendly fellow racer who lives close by me, offered me a ride home with him and his family. A true blessing that saved me dragging my tired body to the train station. The Magnum ice cream was delicious.
A graphic representing my race.
Some photos I shot during the weekend.